Will Von Miller be able to lead the way for the Denver Broncos against the Buffalo Bills?
X-New England Patriots 13-3
It’s another year and once again the New England Patriots are the team to beat in the National Football League. The Patriots are coming off of their second Super Bowl Title in the last three years and their fifth since 2001. The Patriots were truly a team of destiny last season as they won the Super Bowl in dramatic fashion by becoming the first team in the history of the contest to overcome a 25-point deficit. Late in the third quarter, New England found themselves down 28-3 to the Atlanta Falcons in the Super Bowl, but they would finish the game on a 31-0 run which included seeing them score a pair of touchdowns and a pair of two-point conversions in order to force overtime. However as good as things were for the Patriots in 2016, don’t expect Patriots head coach Bill Belichick to allow his team to dwell on what they did last season heading in to a new campaign.
As Belichick is arguably the best head coach in National Football League history, he has the luxury of possibly having the best quarterback in the history of the game working with him. Tom Brady has been New England’s starting quarterback since 2001 and it has been a heck of ride for him as well as the Patriots. Brady’s record as a starters is an impressive 183-52, while he is the only quarterback in NFL history to win five Super Bowl Championships along with four Super Bowl MVP Awards. Brady turned 40-years of age last month and he is not showing any signs of slowing down.
Brady is one of the most accurate quarterbacks that the game of professional football has ever seen as he combines that with intensity and precision. When Brady has the football in his hands, he is the equivalent to a maestro conducting an orchestra. Brady has an array of players to get the football to as he indeed knows how to spread the wealth.
Brady will not have the luxury of having wide receiver Julian Edelman this season as he suffered a torn ACL in the preseason. Edelman has been one of Brady’s most reliable receivers as he has a knack for the big play. But with the Patriots it is all about the next man up.
Unlike last year, New England will have a healthy Rob Gronkowski at tight end as injuries limited him to just eight games. At 6’6″, 265 lbs., Gronkowski is a freak of nature who should be very motivated to come back and show why he is the best tight end in the National Football League after the Pats were able to win the Super Bowl without him last February. And aside from getting Gronkowski back, the rich have gotten richer as Belichick has made sure that the Patriots passing attack won’t skip a beat this year.
The Patriots traded their first-round pick in this past spring’s National Football League Draft to the New Orleans Saints in exchange for wide receiver Brandin Cooks. Cooks was a first-round selection of the Saints in 2014 and he was quickly becoming one of the better receivers in football. Each of the last two seasons saw Cooks collect at least 1,100 yards receiving, but he was becoming disgruntled with his role in the Saints passing game. And when the Saints decided that Cooks was no longer in their plans, the Patriots jumped at the opportunity to acquire him.
Cooks won’t replace Edelman’s contributions on the field or in the locker room. But what Cooks gives the Patriots is a receiver who’ll stretch the field, while he also has sure hands. And with a quarterback such as Brady getting the football to Cooks, he should be on top of his game, while his presence will make it tough for Patriots opponents to attempt to double team Gronkowski.
The Patriots lost tight end Martellus Bennett in free agency as he signed with the Green Bay Packers. But the Patriots who have become wizards in regards to having depth at the tight end position acquired tight end Dwayne Allen from the Indianapolis Colts.
Allen was a third-round selection of the Colts in 2012, but his time in Indy saw him consistently under utilized. Allen won’t be the focal point of the Patriots offense, but he’ll be a player who should thrive playing alongside of Gronkowski, while also becoming another dependable pass catcher for Brady in the red zone.
From 1982-2013, Dante Scarnecchia was on the Patriots coaching with his most notable duty being the team’s offensive line coach from 2000-2013. But in 2013, Scarnecchia decided to retire and without the Patriots offensive line did not have the same cohesion. Scarnecchia returned to the Patriots last season and the offensive line played with more precision. The offensive line for New England continues to be unassuming, but one player to keep an eye on is left tackle Nate Solder whose main job is to protect the blindside of Brady.
New England will miss the bruising running ability of LeGarrette Blount who after leading the team in rushing last year signed with the Philadelphia Eagles as a free agent, leaves a void for the Pats. And without Blount, speed will be the name of the game for the Patriots with running backs James White, Mike Gillislee, and Dion Lewis. And due to the fact that New England’s running backs are undersized, I foresee Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels using more screen and swing passes which will go down on the stat sheet as passes, but they could be just as effective as runs due to the fact that he’ll get his play makers the football in space.
Defensively the Patriots were eighth in the National Football League last year in total defense and they must replace some key players from the unit. Defensive end Chris Long only recorded 4 sacks last year for the Pats, but he was a veteran leader. And New England must replace another leader on defense in defensive end Rob Ninkovich who decided to hang it up after 11 years in the NFL.
New England still has stout players on their defensive line in defensive tackles Malcolm Brown and Alan Branch, while they have some versatile linebackers in Shea McClellin, Kyle Van Noy, and Dont’a Hightower, while linebacker Elandon Roberts is an emerging player for Belichick.
Big plays will be at a premium against the Patriots secondary. Cornerback Malcolm Butler is still one of the top players at his position in the National Football League, while New England was able to add to their depth at the position when they signed former Buffalo Bills cornerback Stephon Gilmore to a five-year deal that is worth $65 million. And once you add in free safety Devin McCourty who is coming off of his second Pro Bowl as well as veteran strong safety Patrick Chung who knows Belichick’s system, New England should once again be a force to be reckoned with defensively.
Kicker Stephen Gostowski still possesses one of the strongest and accurate legs in the National Football League, while wide receiver Matthew Slater is not only a captain for Patriots, but he is also continues to be a guru on special teams with his coverage skills.
As the defending Super Bowl Champs, the Patriots will be getting their opponents best effort on a weekly basis, but this is something that they are accustomed to. And even though that New England will endure a stretch during the second half of the season where they’ll play five of six games on the road which includes contest versus the Denver Broncos and Oakland Raiders, Belichick’s team will once again be battle tested when the playoffs roll around.
Y-Miami Dolphins 10-6
After a 1-4 start in 2016, the Miami Dolphins were well on their way to a ninth consecutive losing season until something remarkable happened. The Dolphins would reel off six consecutive victories, and after Miami finished the regular season with a record of 10-6, they were postseason bound for the first time since 2008. Dolphins head coach Adam Gase made believers out of some of his critics by leading Miami to the postseason in his first year with the club. But whereas the Dolphins were able to use the element of surprise in 2016, how will they do with teams better prepared for Gase’s team this time around?
If the Dolphins are going to make the playoffs in consecutive years for the first time since 2001, they are going to have to accomplish it without the services of quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Tannehill was the Dolphins first-round pick in 2012, and after he struggled under several offensive coordinators, he was finally beginning to put it together under Gase. Late in the 2016 campaign, Tannehill suffered a leg injury which forced him to miss out on the Fins playoff game. Tannehill had rehabbed and was ready to once again be under center until he suffered a torn ACL earlier this month which ended his season before it even started.
And with the Dolphins in need of a quarterback for the upcoming season, Gase would reach out to an old friend in Jay Cutler.
In 2015, Gase was the offensive coordinator of the Chicago Bears. And under Gase, Cutler had one of his best seasons in the National Football League. Throughout Cutler’s NFL career he has been known to throw interceptions in bunches due to his “gunslinger mentality”, however Gase convinced himself to not force the football field down the field as much, while utilizing his check downs to running backs.
After an injury filled 2016, Cutler decided to retire from the National Football League until he was convinced to the Dolphins to give it one try in 2017. But after Cutler appeared to be content in retirement, while he is also 34-years of age, how much left does he have to give?
Without Tannehill, the Dolphins offense still has the opportunity to be potent due to their ability to run the football. Last year Miami was ninth in the National Football League in rushing and there should once again be some paint swapping from this year’s team. Gase is committed to running the football which means that you can expect another heavy dose of running back Jay Ajayi. Last year Ajayi became the first Dolphins running back Ricky Williams in 2003 to carry the football at least 250 times. At 6’0″, 229 lbs., Ajayi is a big, physical running back who only gets better as the game goes along. Ajayi had two games last season where he was able to gain at least 200 yards on the ground, and while this ability will see him go pretty early in fantasy football leagues, he’ll also get the chance to close out games for the Dolphins.
But the biggest thing that Gase has brought to the Dolphins offense is balance as it isn’t all about their running game. Wide receiver Jarvis Landry is rapidly becoming one of the better wide receivers in Dolphins franchise history. Landry was a second-round pick by the Dolphins in 2014 and he has brought something to the franchise that they had lacked for quite some time which is explosiveness. Landry is extremely versatile and Gase will continue to find numerous ways to get him the football which includes reverses and wide receiver screen, while also using him on special teams on punt returns.
And if opposing defenses want to concentrate on slowing down Landry in the Dolphins passing game, Miami has several other viable options to get the football to in with receivers Kenny Stills and DeVante Parker as viable options, while tight end Julius Thomas who was recently acquired from the Jacksonville Jaguars could be a sleeper this season in fantasy football.
The Dolphins defensive line is home to some guys that have high motors. Defensive end Cameron Wake has recorded 81.5 sacks in eight years with the Dolphins which is the second most in franchise behind the 131 of Hall of Famer Jason Taylor. Wake weighs 263 lbs., but he knows how to use leverage which gives him the advantage versus many of the right tackles that he lines up against in the National Football League. And because of that you can expect another double-digit sack campaign in 2017 from Wake.
In two seasons with Miami, defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh has only managed to record 11 sacks, but his presence on the defensive line has given some of his teammates more opportunities to make plays.
Miami’s linebacking unit received a boost this off-season when the organization signed a pair of veterans in outside linebacker Lawrence Timmons and inside linebacker Rey Maualuga. Timmons spent the first decade of his National Football League career with the Pittsburgh Steelers which included winning a Super Bowl Championship, while Maualuga brings eight years of experience with him following his stint with the Cincinnati Bengals.
Miami has been blessed with an easy schedule to begin the season as only one of their first eight opponents made the playoffs last season. And if the Dolphins want to contend with the New England Patriots for the top spot in the AFC East, they are going to need to win the games that they are supposed to which means that Cutler canno tplay hero ball.
Buffalo Bills 5-11
The Buffalo Bills have the current longest active playoff drought in the National Football League. You have to go back to the 1999 NFL season to find the last time that the Bills made the playoffs and once you analyze the dysfunction within the organization, you get a better understanding why the Buffalo has struggled so much. Since 2000, the Bills have had seven different general managers, ten head coaches, and 13 starting quarterbacks. And this constant turnover at these key positions let you understand why the Bills have only been able to record two winning seasons over that stretch.
The past 10 months have been no easier for Buffalo as with one game remaining in the regular season, Rex Ryan was fired as the head coach of the Bills. Ryan was on the cusp of just completing his second year with Buffalo, and thus the team was once again starting over. A few weeks later Sean McDermott was hired to be the Bills new head coach. However the man who hired McDermott in general manager Doug Whaley was fired following the conclusion of the 2017 National Football League Draft and he’d be replaced by former Carolina Panthers assistant general manager Brandon Beane.
The craziness doesn’t stop there for the Bills as the cloud of uncertainty still looms over the quarterback position for them. Tyrod Taylor spent the last two years as the Bills starting quarterback, however he isn’t “Mr. Popularity” within the organization. Taylor spent the last two years as the Bills starting quarterback, and although that he was able to put up decent numbers, he has been unable to help the Bills take the next step. Aside from Taylor, no quarterback on the Bills roster has attempted more than 134 passes in the National Football League. And if the Bills don’t feel that Taylor is the long-term solution for them at quarterback, they’ll once again be starting over at the most important position on the football field.
Ad the Bills flirted with parting with Taylor, they did trade his favorite target in wide receiver Sammy Watkins to the Los Angeles Rams. The Bills moved up in the first round of the 2014 National Football League Draft in order to obtain the services of Watkins, however his time in Buffalo was marred by injuries and thus Buffalo decided to move on. After trading Watkins, the Bills would proceed to acquire wide receiver Jordan Matthews from the Philadelphia Eagles and it is paramount that he and Taylor are able to get on the same page.
After an injury filled 2015, running back LeSean McCoy bounced back last season to have one of the better years of his career. At the age of 29, McCoy still has plenty of explosion and any success that Buffalo intends on having in 2017 hinges on the strong legs and quick feet of McCoy.
But whereas McCoy can be a difference maker for Buffalo’s offense, the Bills don’t have too many impact players on the defensive side of the football. Last year saw linebacker Lorenzo Alexander enjoy the best year of his National Football League career as he was able to record 12.5 sacks. But at the age of 34, will the Bills and McDermott be able to back on Alexander being able to put together another quality season like that?
With the start of a new season right around the corner, the Bills are still searching for their identity as an organization. And because of that, 2017 will see the Bills add to there already mounting frustration of being unable to reach the postseason since 1999.
New York Jets 1-15
Following the New York Jets can be hazardous to your health at times due to the numerous head scratching moves that have been made by this club over the years. In 2015, the Jets went 10-6 and were in an eye shadow of making the playoffs. But since then the Jets have regressed and all signs point to them rebuilding as after they went 5-11, things appear ready to get worse.
This off-season has seen a roster overhaul as they’ve parted with veteran players such as defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson and wide receiver Brandon Marshall. And although that the Jets weren’t a playoff team last year with these guys on the roster, more than ever they appear to be a rudderless ship.
Unfortunately for the Jets, they are still searching for the next Joe Namath at quarterback which is not going to happen. Last year the Jets used three different quarterbacks and none of them were able to complete 60% of their passes. The quarterbacking situation is not that much better for the Jets this season as they have a pair of inexperiences quarterbacks on the roster in Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenburg, while this off-season saw New York sign veteran quarterback Josh McCown whose record as a starter in the National Football League is a paltry 18-42.
At 31-years of age, running back Matt Forte’s best years carrying the football are in the rearview mirror, but he is just 585 rushing yards away from being the 30th player in National Football League history to gain 10,000 career yards. However aside from Forte potentially reaching the milestone, there is not anything to get excited about in regards to the Jets offense as this unit has the potential to be historically bad.
Jets head coach Todd Bowles built his rep around the National Football League by coaching defensive football. And although that the stars are not alining for Gang Green to be good this year, two players to keep an eye on are defensive ends Leonard Williams and Muhammad Wilkerson who each could be in the mix to make the Pro Bowl.
It’s been some time since the Jets came into a season with expectations for them as low as they currently are. And because of that it would not surprise me to see the brown paper bags broken out by Jets fans at MetLife Stadium by Week 8.
Y-Wild Card Source:
When Jimmy Johnson became the head coach of the Miami Dolphins in 1996, he vowed to do things his way in the same fashion that he did when he led the Dallas Cowboys to a pair of Super Bowl Championships as their head coach in 1992 and 1993. Johnson’s first order of business with the Dolphins was to fix the defense as for a long time Miami’s time was quarterback Dan Marino and 52 other guys. And in 1997, Johnson would use a third round pick on defensive end/outside linebacker Jason Taylor to help to remedy that.
At 6’6″, Taylor had the height to be a successful edge rusher in the National Football League, but at just 244 lbs., he was slightly undersized to deal with the mammoth offensive tackles. However there is no statistical category in place which measures a player’s heart and determination which is something that Taylor was one of the best at.
Along with the likes of middle linebacker Zach Thomas, cornerback Sam Madison, and defensive end Trace Armstrong, Taylor would go on to develop a reputation as a stalwart on the Dolphins during his tenure as Miami typically had one of the top defenses in the National Football League.
By 2000, Taylor began to solidify his reputation around the National Football League as one of the top edge rushers. That season would see Taylor have a breakthrough season as he record 14.5 sacks. And this would not go unnoticed as Taylor would earn his first Pro Bowl selection. In 2002, Taylor would lead the National Football League in sacks with 18.5 while the Dolphins had the fourth ranked defense in the league. In 2006, Taylor would record 13.5 sacks, while also returning two interceptions for touchdowns. Taylor would be named as the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year and in the process he became the first Dolphins player since defensive end Doug Betters in 1983 to win the award.
Taylor would continue to put up quality numbers in a Dolphins uniform, but after a falling out with the front office in Miami, he would be traded to the Washington Redskins in 2008. Taylor would only record 3.5 sacks in 13 games for the Redskins and after he sighted the desire to be closer to his family in South Florida, he was released by Washington in order to return to the Dolphins in 2009.
Taylor would sign a one-year deal to return to the Dolphins as he recorded 7 sacks. But in 2010, the allure of competing for a Super Bowl Title would see Taylor join the rival New York Jets. At the age of 36, Taylor was a shell of himself as he only recorded 5 sacks, but his veteran leadership would help the Jets reach the AFC Championship Game for a second consecutive year.
After one season with the Jets, Taylor would return to South Florida for this third and final stint with the Dolphins. Taylor would be used in a reserve role in order to keep him fresh, but he still managed to record 7 sacks on the season, while he also recorded a key tackle in his final game which was subsequently against the Jets who had released him after one season.
When Taylor finished his career, his 139.5 sacks were the sixth most in National Football League history, and his 131 career sacks with the Dolphins are by far tops in the history of that franchise. And aside from being the best pass rusher in the history of the Dolphins, Taylor’s name will live forever in NFL history as he is now in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
It didn’t take Taylor that long to be enshrined as he made it on his first year of eligibility which gives you an idea about the respect that he earned. Taylor was one of the best pass rushers of his era, while he consistently went up against left tackles in the National Football League such as Jonathan Ogden of the Baltimore Ravens, Willie Anderson of the Cincinnati Bengals, and Matt Light of the New England Patriots. But the size of these offensive tackles who were all above 300 pounds never fazed the lighter Taylor who went about his business with speed, quickness, and leverage.
So when Taylor was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame tonight, it was only fitting that it was Johnson who inducted him. Thomas would have been a logical fit being that he and Taylor are both godfathers to each other’s kids, but it was Johnson who saw something special in him and thus he gave him a chance to succeed in the National Football League.
Taylor is now the tenth Dolphins player or coach inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but he is also the first player that attended the University of Akron to be enshrined. And it is also fitting being that only 24 miles separates Akron from Canton.
Little did we know that when Johnson spent a third round pick on Taylor in the 1997 National Football League Draft that we’d see him end up in the Pro Football Hall of Fame where he is now immortalized forever, and more than likely his no. 99 will never be worn by another Dolphins player.
New England Patriots
First-Round Pick: (N/A)
Best Pick: (N/A)
It was very difficult to give the New England Patriots a quality grade for the 2017 National Football League Draft due to the fact that they were not that active. The Patriots only had four selections in the draft as the result of trades or punishment by the NFL. The Patriots upgrades to their team came via trades and free agency as they acquired wide receiver Brandin Cooks from the New Orleans Saints and tight end Dwayne Allen from the Indianapolis Colts, while also signing former Buffalo Bills cornerback Stephon Gilmore.
But of the Patriots four draft picks in 2017 which includes Youngstown State Penguins outside linebacker Derek Rivers and Troy Trojans offensive tackle Antonio Garcia who were each selected in the third round, they will be developmental players. And before you know it they could become key cogs in the wheel of the Patriots machinery.
First-Round Pick: Charles Harris-Defensive End-Missouri
Best Pick: Charles Harris
After the Miami Dolphins were able to break through last season for their first playoff appearance since 2008, the last thing that they want to do is to take a step backwards. And the best way for the Dolphins to keep building was for them to have a solid draft.
The Dolphins already have a solid pass rush, but if they are going to be able to give the Patriots a real run for their money in the AFC East, then they will need to stock pile as many quality pass rushers as possible. And with several quality pass rusher available in the first round of the 2017 National Football League Draft, the Fins zeroed in on Missouri Tigers defensive end Charles Harris.
Five of Miami’s first six selections in the draft came on the defensive side of the football which included taking Ohio State Buckeyes inside linebacker Raekwon McMillan in the second round and Clemson Tigers cornerback Cordrea Tankersley in the third round.
The only way to get past the Patriots is to slow them down, and the Dolphins are hopeful that they’ve plugged up all of their holes on defense in order to do so.
First-Round Pick: Tre’Davious White-Cornerback-LSU
Best Pick: Round Five-Nathan Peterman-Quarterback-Pittsburgh
The 2017 National Football League Draft turned out to be a train wreck for the Buffalo Bills in more ways than one. The Bills traded down from the tenth overall selection to the 27th as they made a deal with the Kansas City Chiefs. The Bills would then select LSU Tigers cornerback Tre’Davious White to offset the loss of cornerback Stephon Gilmore who signed as a free agent with the Patriots. And aside from trading down, the Bills failed to find themselves an impact player in the draft which is bad news for a franchise that needs one since they have failed to make the postseason since 1999.
But things got wacky this past Sunday when general manager Doug Whaley and his entire scouting team were fired. Now this draft class doesn’t have a leg to stand on which gives you an idea as to why the Bills have the longest current playoff drought in the National Football League.
New York Jets
First-Round Pick: Jamal Adams-Safety-LSU
Best Pick: Jamal Adams
The New York Jets entered the 2017 National Football League Draft with several needs to fill on both sides of the football, but credit to general manager Mike Maccagnan for sticking to his guns and not overreaching at any point during the draft.
After coming off of a 5-11 season, along with possessing the sixth overall pick in the draft, it would have been really easy for the Jets to get caught up in the moment and select a quarterback. However Maccagnan stuck to his draft board and selected LSU Tigers safety Jamal Adams.
Adams fell slightly in the draft once the Chicago Bears decided to draft quarterback Mitch Trubisky, but he fills a need in the Jets secondary as they could be ready to move on from safety Calvin Pryor.
The Jets continued to find athletes from the Southeastern Conference as they took Florida Gators safety Marcus Maye in the second round and Alabama Crimson Tide wide receiver ArDarius Stewart in the third which helps this organization being that they need more depth.
This draft class may not produce superstars for the Jets, but they might be able to get some quality role players out of it.
1. Cleveland Browns-Myles Garrett-Defensive End-Texas A&M
It will be very hard to mess up this selection, but nothing is impossible when it comes to futility for the Cleveland Browns.
2. San Francisco 49ers-Solomon Thomas-Defensive End-Stanford
Offense sells tickets and wins games, but defense wins championships. New 49ers general manager John Lynch is a defensive minded guy and where better for him to find his first draft selection than right up the road at his alma mater.
3. Chicago Bears-Jamal Adams-Strong Safety-LSU
There are several directions in which the Bears can go here, but they need an enforcer in their secondary.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars-Leonard Fournette-Running Back-LSU
The best way for the Jaguars to protect quarterback Blake Bortles is to put more play makers around him, and it starts by improving the running game.
5. Tennessee Titans (via the Los Angeles Rams)-Malik Hooker-Free Safety-Ohio State
With a pair of first round picks at the Tennessee Titans disposal, this is a golden opportunity for them to stockpile play makers.
6. New York Jets-Marshon Lattimore-Cornerback-Ohio State
There are several directions in which the Jets can go here which includes making a trade. However the Jets do need help in their secondary.
7. Los Angeles Chargers-Ryan Ramczyk-Offensive Tackle-Wisconsin
Quarterback Philip Rivers isn’t getting any younger and the Chargers must do everything in their power to protect him.
8. Carolina Panthers-Christian McCaffrey-Running Back-Stanford
For the Carolina Panthers to get back to being a playoff team, they must go back to the basics which means concentrating on their rushing attack.
9. Cincinnati Bengals-Reuben Foster-Inside Linebacker-Alabama
If ever there a was a team who would take a first-round flyer on a guy who failed a drug test, it is the Bengals.
10. Buffalo Bills-Haason Reddick-Outside Linebacker-Temple
The Bills are looking up at the New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins in the AFC East who are both loaded at the skill positions on offense which means that they must get more athletic on defense.
11. New Orleans Saints-Derek Barnett-Defensive End-Tennessee
If the Saints take care of their business at the draft which means fixing their defense, they could be a playoff team for the upcoming season.
12. Cleveland Browns (via the Philadelphia Eagles)-Mitch Trubisky-Quarterback-North Carolina
Quarterback Deshaun Watson makes more sense here, but the Browns like Mitch Trubisky.
13. Arizona Cardinals-Mike Williams-Wide Receiver-Clemson
With wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald getting up their in age and the Cardinals second leading pass catcher last season being running back David Johnson, they must improve their vertical offense.
14. Philadelphia Eagles (via the Minnesota Vikings)-Dalvin Cook-Running Back-Florida State
Last year the Eagles got their franchise quarterback in Carson Wentz and this off-season has seen them stockpiling play makers for him to get the football to.
15. Indianapolis Colts-O.J. Howard-Tight End-Alabama
The Colts have already traded tight end Dwayne Allen this off-season to the Patriots and they need to get some help on offense for quarterback Andrew Luck.
16. Baltimore Ravens-Jonathan Allen-Defensive Tackle-Alabama
Jonathan Allen has the talent to be a top-five pick, but if he falls this far it would be a steal for the Baltimore Ravens.
17. Washington Redskins-Corey Davis-Wide Receiver-Western Michigan
For the second consecutive year the Redskins slapped the franchise tag on quarterback Kirk Cousins. But after the Redskins let their two top wide receivers leave in free agency, they need to keep Cousins happy.
18. Tennessee Titans-T.J. Watt-Outside Linebacker-Wisconsin
If T.J. Watt is half as good as his older brother in Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt, the Titans will be a force to be reckoned with for the upcoming NFL season.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers-Taco Charlton-Defensive End-Michigan
If the Buccaneers want to be legitimate threat to win the NFC South here in 2017, they are going to have to upgrade their pass rush in a division that is littered with Pro Bowl caliber quarterbacks.
20. Denver Broncos-David Njoku-Tight End-Miami
It’s still unsure whether it will be Trevor Siemian or Paxton Lynch that will be under center for the Broncos when the season begins, but they need to upgrade the tight end position where they hardly got any production from last year.
21. Detroit Lions-Charles Harris-Defensive End-Missouri
The Lions only managed to get 26 sacks in 2016 and they still managed to be a playoff team. But that won’t cut it once again.
22. Miami Dolphins-Kevin King-Cornerback-Washington
If the Dolphins want to overtake the Patriots for the top spot in the AFC East, they need to find a way to neutralize all of their talent at the skill positions.
23. New York Giants-Malik McDowell-Defensive Tackle-Michigan State
After the Giants lost defensive tackle Jonathan Hankins in free agency to the Colts, this is a no-brainer here.
24. Oakland Raiders-Chidobe Awuzie-Cornerback-Colorado
The Raiders secondary was exposed last season when quarterback Derek Carr suffered a fractured fibula. And if this organization wants to be a legit Super Bowl contender, they are going to have to find a way to slow down opposing offenses via the pass.
25. Houston Texans-Deshaun Watson-Quarterback-Clemson
If the Browns screw it up and pass on Deshaun Watson, the Texans won’t be as foolish.
26. Seattle Seahawks-Garett Bolles-Offensive Tackle-Utah
Over the last two years Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson has been sacked 86 times which isn’t going to cut it if they want to be a legitimate Super Bowl contender.
27- Kansas City Chiefs-John Ross-Wide Receiver-Washington
After hardly getting any production from their wide receivers in 2016, the Chiefs need to get more speed on the outside.
28. Dallas Cowboys-Takkarist McKinley-Outside Linebacker-UCLA
The Cowboys currently possess a Super Bowl offense, but they are lacking play makers on the defensive side of the football.
29. Green Bay Packers-Marlon Humphrey-Cornerback-Alabama
In the Packers playoff loss to the Atlanta Falcons, their secondary had it handed to them which is all that you need to know.
30-Pittsburgh Steelers-Zach Cunningham-Outside Linebacker-Vanderbilt
Zach Cunningham fits the mold of a Steelers linebacker as he possesses size, athleticism, toughness, speed, and a knack for making big plays.
31. Atlanta Falcons-Forrest Lamp-Guard-Western Kentucky
Forrest Lamp gives the Falcons a versatile presence on their offensive line and he’ll be a starter from his first day.
32. New Orleans Saints (via the New England Patriots)-Adoree jackson-Cornerback-USC
A few years from now we could be looking at the trade which sent wide receiver Brandin Cooks to the Patriots as the deal that got the Saints back to the Super Bowl if Adoree Jackson pans out here.
Bill Belichick-New England Patriots
New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick is a three-time National Football League Coach of the Year and he is in the running to once again win the award here in 2016. The deck was stacked against the Patriots to begin this NFL season as the result of quarterback Tom Brady being suspended by the league for the first four games.
But in typical Patriots fashion, they responded to adversity as only they could by going 3-1 without Brady. New England hasn’t had the services of tight end Rob Gronkowski that much as he has only appeared eight games this season, while he was placed on injured reserved last month. The Patriots also traded outside linebacker Jamie Collins last month and they haven’t skipped a beat.
With just one game remaining in the regular season, the Patriots are 13-2, and a victory this Sunday over the Miami Dolphins, or a loss by the Oakland Raiders will give New England home-field advantage in the AFC Playoffs.
Each of the last five National Football League seasons have seen the Patriots at least reach the AFC Championship Game, and as they’ve already secured a first-round bye, there is a good possibility to see them advance into late January.
In all but two of Belichick’s 17 seasons as the head coach of the Patriots, his team has won at least 10 games in the regular season. And as the Patriots could finish tied with the Dallas Cowboys for the best record in the National Football League, it is a tribute to the culture that Belichick has established in Foxborough.
Adam Gase-Miami Dolphins
For Adam Gase he has walked into a very difficult situation and made the impossible, possible. Prior to this year the Dolphins have only made the playoffs once since 2002, while they hadn’t had a winning season since 2008. But in one year under Gase, the Dolphins are heading to the postseason and in a very improbable fashion.
The Dolphins began the 2016 National Football League season with a record of 1-4 and it appeared to be another lost year in South Florida. But since then the Dolphins are 9-1 as Gase has changed the culture there along with the team’s overall philosophy.
When Gase became the head coach of the Dolphins, he decided to stick with Ryan Tannehill as his starting quarterback. Tannehill was the Dolphins first-round pick in 2012, but he has been up and down during his time with the team. Gase decided to reduce Tannehill’s work load as the Dolphins have rediscovered the running game.
Second year running back Jay Ajayi has become a force for the Dolphins as his 1,213 rushing yards in 2016 are the fourth most in a single-season by a Miami running back. Ajayi’s emergence coincided with the Dolphins resurgence as his 204 rushing yards in Miami’s 30-15 victory in Week 6 over the Pittsburgh Steelers got the ball rolling.
Ajayi has been able to produce behind a Dolphins offensive line that is without the services of a center Mike Pouncey who is a three-time Pro Bowler, but it has been the overall attitude of this unit as well as the commitment to the running game that has turned things around in South Florida.
Overall the Dolphins are ninth in the National Football League in rushing and that will be important in the postseason as they will be without the services of Tannehill who is out with a knee injury. But the Dolphins haven’t skipped a beat with backup quarterback Matt Moore who is 2-0 as a starter.
The Dolphins also possess a ferocious defensive line that features Ndamukong Suh and defensive end Cameron Wake who tend to have a weekly meeting a the quarterback.
And once you factor in Miami’s ability to run the football along with a stout defensive line, they should be a force next month in the playoffs.
Jack Del Rio-Oakland Raiders
A franchise turnaround begins with a culture change and this is very evident with the Oakland Raiders. Once upon a time that Raiders were the gold standard of success in the National Football League as they were revered. But since 2003, the Raiders became the laughing stock of the NFL as they have had the worst winning percentage in the league over that stretch without a playoff appearance, or a winning campaign. But things have changed on the watch of head coach Jack Del Rio.
Del Rio in his second season as the head coach of the Raiders, and under him the team has returned to glory. The Raiders record of 12-3 this season is the second best in the AFC, while it is their best mark since they went 12-4 in 2000.
Del Rio has changed the culture in Oakland which wasn’t an easy task and in the process he has woken a sleeping giant in the National Football League. But Del Rio’s biggest task is still ahead of him as the Raiders will enter the postseason without the services of Pro Bowl quarterback Derek Carr.
Carr suffered a fractured fibula this past Saturday against the Indianapolis Colts which really put a damper on the Raiders postseason chances. Carr was in the running to be the National Football League’s MVP and now the Raiders will go into the postseason relying on backup quarterback Matt McGloin to get the job done. And if Del Rio and the Raiders find a way to advance in the postseason with McGloin under center, it will arguably be one of the best coaching jobs ever done in the history of the league.
Jason Garrett-Dallas Cowboys
After the Dallas Cowboys went 4-12 in 2015, they were expected to be an improved team here in 2016, but nobody expected what they have become. Through 15 games in 2016, the Cowboys are 13-2 which is tied with the New England Patriots for the best mark in the National Football League and they’ve already sewn up home-field advantage in the NFC.
But things looked bleak for the Cowboys in August when starting quarterback Tony Romo was sidelined with a back injury. And that meant that the Cowboys would go with an unproven rookie at quarterback in Dak Prescott.
Prescott has more than overachieved this season as he is completing 68.1% of his passes, while he has thrown 23 touchdown passes to just 4 interceptions. And typically a season like this would see Prescott as a shoo-in to be the National Football League’s Offensive Rookie of the Year, but he has some very stiff competition from his teammate in running back Ezekiel Elliot.
Whereas much wasn’t expected from Prescott who was selected in the fourth round of the National Football League Draft by the Cowboys, the same cannot be said for Elliot. Elliot was the fourth overall selection of the draft as he was expected to ignite the running game for the Cowboys which is what he has done. Elliot is leading the NFL in rushing with 1,631 yards, and he has brought excitement back to that position in Dallas which has not been seen in Dallas since the days of Emmitt Smith.
Prescott and Elliot have benefited from playing behind one of the best offensive lines in the National Football League, while Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett has kept the game plan simple, but effective for his rookie quarterback.
And if Dallas continues on the pace that they are currently on, they could be in line for their first Super Bowl Championship since 1995.
Ben McAdoo-New York Giants
Ben McAdoo spent the last two years as the offensive coordinator of the New York Giants and he found himself being promoted to being the team’s head coach last January. McAdoo’s task was to get things turned around for a Giants franchise that had not reached the postseason since winning the Super Bowl in 2011.
Under McAdoo, the Giants began the season 2-0 for the first time since 2009 and their 10-5 mark has seen them qualify for the postseason. McAdoo’s Giants are the only team to defeat the Dallas Cowboys this season as they’ve done it twice. But it has been the Giants defense that has kept them going this season as they are 11th in the NFL in total defense, but third in points allowed at 18.3 per contest. McAdoo’s specialty is supposed to be offensive football, but New York has been stuck in the mud as they are 24th in the National Football League. However being that the Giants have improved after going just 6-10 in each of the last two seasons has to put McAdoo in the mix as far as being the NFL’s Coach of the Year.